When celebrity chef Peter Evans recently said he snacks on ‘activated almonds’, even health professionals looked bewildered. So, exactly what ARE activated almonds?
Celebrity chef Pete Evans inadvertently sparked a passionate online conversation about health food fads with the unveiling of his daily diet in the ‘My Day on a Plate’ feature in The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald recently.
Among the foods he said were regular items in his diet were Emu meatballs, cultured vegetables, alkalised water and activated almonds.
The item that drew the most flack? Activated almonds. So, what are they and do they have health benefits over ordinary almonds?
All nuts are packed with nutrients, but almonds stand out as a super-nut.
They provide 28 essential nutrients. Top of the list is the natural antioxidant, vitamin E, and there are good amounts of fibre, heart-friendly fatty acids and protein, as well as smaller quantities of B vitamins and minerals. Surprisingly, they’re also a good source of calcium.
To ‘activate’ an almond you need to soak it for 24 hours in water, then dry it out again over a low heat.
Supporters of activated almonds claim raw almonds contain phytochemicals that prevent you from getting the full benefit of the nutrients in almonds when you digest them. They say by activating the almonds you denature these phytochemicals. This claim, as far as I have been able to ascertain, is unproven.
The Nuts for Life organisation, which represents the Australian tree nut industry, says there’s almost no research on almonds that indicates whether ‘activation’ actually improves digestibility and nutrition. However, chewing or grinding any nut releases more ‘heart-friendly’ fat, minerals and vitamins.
In the average balanced Aussie diet, any small nutrient differences gained from soaking almonds probably doesn’t really matter. But if you do want the most nutrients from your almonds, chew them well or grind them and then sprinkle over muesli.
Almonds, either raw or activated (whether you buy activated almonds or take the time and trouble to activate your own) are a nutritious food and definitely worth including in your daily diet.